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AWG's key leadership, alignment changes

Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc. made some key leadership and alignment changes for 2019. The company said these changes are being made to better seize opportunities, provide the very best supply performance and provide its members with a significantly enhanced retail-level service, support and solutions. The changes are expected to better clarify roles and responsibilities throughout the organization, improve internal collaboration, and position its retail-facing teammates as a united force for positive change.Dan-FunkDan Funk

“As our business and the challenges facing our members are ever-changing, we must constantly evaluate our performance against our mission objective," said David Smith, AWG’s president and chief executive officer. "As we measure that performance, from time to time, it becomes necessary for us to realign and adjust our resources with current and emerging member needs and priorities.”

The most substantive change is creating a more cohesive supply chain alignment within the company to deliver on its primary objective of providing its member’s best-in-class wholesale supply. This will be accomplished by bringing together division operations, merchandising and distribution/logistics functions. The overarching mission of this supply chain function is to provide its members what they need, when they need it, at the best possible cost.

Dan Funk has been promoted to the new role of chief supply chain and merchandising officer. He will have accountability for all merchandising and operations, bringing the entire supply chain under one seasoned leader. Funk joined AWG in 2012 to lead its Valu Merchandisers subsidiary as president. He later was promoted to senior vice president of grocery for AWG and in 2015 assumed the role of executive vice president, merchandising and marketing. Prior to joining AWG, Funk worked his way up through the business in various retail and wholesale roles ranging from bag boy at a small-town independent supermarket in North Dakota all the way to leadership roles of increasing responsibility with leading retail chains and wholesalers.Jeff-PedersenJeff Pedersen

Jeff Pedersen will lead sales, services, support, and solutions for AWG as executive vice president and chief sales and support officer. Pedersen is a 21-year veteran of AWG and has worked in a variety of increasingly impactful roles from specialist all the way to executive vice president of division operations. Prior to joining AWG, Pedersen started his career in an independently owned supermarket and worked his way through multiple retail positions leading to prominent management responsibilities for leading Midwest chains. Under Pedersen’s leadership, this new retailer-facing organization will be segregated into the primary disciplines of sales, services, support, and solutions.

The sales team will be the primary point of contact for AWG members and will lead the communication as well as the retail execution of sales building strategies.

The services team will be the combined functions of its award-winning departments of store engineering, store design, store décor, décor manufacturing, lighting and design, and the management and administration of third-party services that serve its members’ facility design, construction, maintenance, remodeling, and other related needs.

The support team will be a centrally managed group of functional areas and departments that are focused on delivering sales support to division teams and its members. These support functions encompass advertising and marketing support, creative marketing services, digital, in-store marketing and social media services, customer loyalty programs, shelf space optimization strategies and Plan-o-gram support, and much more.

The solutions team is an exciting new addition for AWG. It currently encompasses retail technology, business solutions, and retail pricing. This new area will be expanded in the future to be the go-to for various member needs which are best fulfilled by AWG or by third-party providers, especially in the areas of technology.

“The supermarket industry is both challenging and rewarding,” said Barry Queen, chairman of the board for AWG. “AWG continues to stay positioned and focused to be the best wholesale partner a retailer needs to meet the challenges of today and the future.”